Our Vision: A community that ensures environmental sustainability, the protection of water resources for us and future generations, and the rights of democratic community self-government in our region.
As a California native and transplant to Tacoma, I have additional perspective on why our water protection petitions are so important, and is why I am working with this petition campaign, and feel so dedicated to this cause. California is almost always in some state of water conservation and/or drought status, so I have lived in a water scarce environment for a good part of my life. Voluntary and mandatory water cutbacks, I assure you, is not a place we ever want to be and is a primary reason I moved away from California and came to the Northwest. On my four day exploratory trip to the area it rained non-stop for four days, and I said to myself on my return trip home, “I’ll take it…there is water!”
What I remember the most in my four decades in drought-stricken California, and found so untenable, is the constant stress and guilt associated with using water for everyday activities that we all consider to be normal. Before 2014, water rationing was done at the city and district level. But in 2014 the State of California went beyond the voluntary water reduction of 20%, and began enforcement of 25% mandatory water cutbacks in every city in the state. Forget about a green lawn and that lush garden, or having a clean car. The constant denying myself of water, down to the cup…restaurants only served you water if you asked for it. Brown lawns were the norm, no gardens, reduced use of washer/dryer, dishwasher, car washing, washing the dog, that long relaxing shower, the list is long.
Our fresh water is a finite natural resource that we have to protect, as it will continue to be a target by mega-mega water users. We have seen with the methanol refinery, how quickly a handful of elected officials will “sell” a major portion of our water out to the highest bidder, with no regard for how that will impact the citizens. And, at the same time, asking us to reduce water usage by 10%. We can’t let that happen again. It is our water and we are in an age of droughts. The decision to allow any mega-mega water users must be in our hands, the citizens. Please support the water petitions!
Dan Decker is one of Save Tacoma Water’s super volunteers and turned in a huge stack of petitions a few minutes ago – 31 full pages (640 signatures) of blue petitions and 24 full pages (480 signatures) of green petitions. Wow, this is a superfabulous effort. A huge thanks goes out to Dan!
Dan is a dedicated volunteer petitioning daily, going door to door. Tacoma residents are readily signing the petition. Volunteers report that the signers prefer the “blue” petition because they understand that the charter amendment cannot be overturned by the politicians. The clock is ticking, if you haven’t joined with all of us Citizen Lawmakers, now is the time to get out and collect signatures – our deadline, June 15th is quickly approaching.
Check out our ad in this week’s edition of the Tacoma Weekly (available Thursdays) – the paper in town to read if you want to be informed, especially when it came to reporting about the methanol refinery. Support this newspaper as the publisher is one of the visionary people endorsing our Water Protection Petitions.
The Cascade Mountain range as seen from the parking lot of Mt. Rainier showing the lack of snow pack last year. Photo by Ron Morrison
Never forget how bad the drought was last year. It can happen again. Save Tacoma Water volunteer Ron Morrison uses this pitch while out collecting signatures, “Do you drink Tacoma Water?”
That pitch is a great way to get attention about our fresh water and how precious it is. It helps catch the attention of folks walking by and once they learn about the petitions, people readily sign the Water Protection Petitions.
We have just 8 weeks until our deadline – so now is the time to help us make history. Never before has a citizen group attempted to collect signatures on both an ordinance and a charter amendment at the same time. Why do both? We are asked that question frequently and the answer is because the ordinance gets us on the ballot this year and the charter amendment ensures that five votes on the council does not over turn the will of the people. Onward to the ballot!
Save Tacoma Water carefully researched these water protection petitions, waiting months for some of our public records requests to be fulfilled. We found that only one fresh water user uses an incredible amount of fresh water each day – WestRock, or more commonly known as Simpson Kraft Paper Mill. That company uses a staggering 15.52 million gallons of fresh water daily. That paper mill has been a part of Tacoma’s history since 1928 when the plant was first built, it is still in operation today and is grandfathered in under a provision in the water protection petitions we are currently collecting signatures on.
No other industry comes close to using that amount of fresh water daily, in fact, of the other 9 top fresh water users, not one of them uses enough water to trigger a public vote – that is how reasonable the water protection petitions are.
The scare put into us by the sponsors of the largest methanol plant in the world was a wake up call to Tacomans. Save Tacoma Water filed the water protection petitions to prevent super huge water users from sneaking into our community like Northwest Innovation Works tried to do. The water protection petitions are our insurance that this won’t happen again in the future. Requiring a public vote by the people to approve an industry that wants to use more than a million gallons of fresh water daily is necessary to ensure a full discussion ensues when the next super huge fresh water user comes to town.
Turn in your signatures whenever you have a full page so we hit our weekly goals on both petitions. Offer the blue sheets first as we need more of those.
Ron Morrison has great success stopping potential signers by saying, “Do you drink Tacoma water?”, then he quickly asks if they are registered to vote in Tacoma.
Volunteers are needed to cover Wal-Mart (off Union) every day from 6:00 -8:00 PM for the next several weeks. Soon, the out-of-town paid petitioners will arrive and Wal-Mart will not be available as the pros will staff this location round the clock. So, now is the time to go to Wal-Mart where you can collect 15-20 signatures an hour. Petition with a partner. There are two doors, one is busier than the other. If you work it alone, set up a table at the slow door with our great signs – people will sign the petition sheet without even having to ask them to because everyone wants to protect our water.
Northeast Tacoma seniors became unified and active in their opposition to a methanol refinery when news of the proposal spread. Many feel the citizens’ brigade raised the neighborhood’s profile with the City of Tacoma. “We’re kind of a stepchild of the city. It’s like the sleeping giant,” said Kristine Taylor. “We’re here and it would behoove you to listen to us.” Video shot at the Center at Norpoint on Tuesday, April 13, 2016.
Tacoma water sent out a letter in August of 2015, asking residents to help meet the goal of reducing water usage by 10% . The letter states, “we can save 1 billion gallons of much needed water.”
The residents were asked to let their lawns go dormant and to reach out to family and friends to do the same.
The letter ends by saying, “the drought is among the worst we’ve ever experienced. Let’s work together to conserve our water supply.”
This letter was sent out just one month after the making of an infamous video showing elected officials, including Mayor Strickland and Gov. Inslee, giving PR-like comments supporting the methanol refinery that would have used 10-14 million gallons of fresh water per day.
Note the amount of water needed – this is the original estimate of water needed before the citizen outcry. Then, with just a stroke of the pen, Northwest Innovation Works reduced the usage to 10.4 million gallons per day, without any explanation about how that would occur.
The methanol plant proposal was a wake up call and a blessing in disguise. Now, with the Water Protection Petitions, we will be prepared for the next super-huge fresh water user that wants our discounted water rates, while residents continue to subsidize business use of our water.
What? You say, did I read that right? Yes you did. Super-huge water users get discounted rates. As an example, US Oil & Refinery Co. uses 0.62 million gallon of water a day at a discounted rate much less than what residents pay. Surely, the oil refinery is making plenty of money and can afford to pay the same rate for fresh water as residents. But perhaps that is another initiative for another time.
Mayor Baarsma, one of Save Tacoma Water’s endorsers, stands outside Jason Lee Sunday afternoon collecting signatures on the Water Protection Petitions. The line to get into the 27th District Democrat’s meeting was more than three blocks long. The 27th District D’s are very supportive and volunteers continually were thanked for their time. Many in line took envelopes with petitions inside with the intent of collecting more signatures for Save Tacoma Water.
Another endorser, Sen. Jeannie Darnielle, was there as well and took the time to explain the issue to Rep. Laurie Jinkins, who is seen signing one of the petitions below. Michael Lefreniere, Save Tacoma Water spokesman, is the volunteer getting Rep. Jinkin’s signature.
Kudos to all the STW volunteers who showed up with just a day’s notice to be there. Thank you Mayor Baarsma for knowing there would be tons of people who support the cause and would want to sign at the meeting. We collected lots of signatures! Thanks to all – another good day in a string of good days of petitioning. We are having fun now! If you haven’t joined in the fun yet, call Donna and get involved (253) 209-7988.